While trying out different hatha yoga classes, I was also on a quest for a spiritual path. Along with millions of other young seekers, I was looking for a more spiritual life. I checked out many other teachers and traditions. It was the beginning of my spiritual journey.
During this time I remember a vision. It was more than a dream. It had a clarity that dreams do not. It touched me deeply. In this vision I saw a large man, from India, standing on one foot. His hair hung down long over his shoulders. He had his hands in prayer pose and he was looking directly at me. It felt powerful, inviting, and welcoming. He could see me, all of me, and accepted who I was.
A few weeks later I met some people who were part of a spiritual group who had an Indian teacher. I was invited to join them for a dinner where the teacher would be attending. I liked the way these people approached being spiritual. It was filled with respect and at the same time, very normal.
At the dinner, we all ate and enjoyed ourselves and I was feeling pretty good about being there with this group and this teacher. In my mind, I connected this to my vision. He was clearly a man from India and was very welcoming. But he did not have long hair. I did not concern myself with these details, after all, it was a vision, not real life.
After dinner, anyone who wished to be initiated could meet the teacher in the spare room where he would perform a little ceremony. I was a bit nervous and uncertain, but everything felt ‘right’. So when it was my turn, I went into the room, sat down, and faced the teacher.
After a minute, he looked at me and said he would not initiate me. I was shocked. How could he say no. I was a good person. I decided and he must accept, right? After a few seconds, perhaps allowing me to play out my mental anguish to finally relax a bit, he then says, “I am not your teacher.” Like a bolt of lightning, it became clear he was not my teacher. But where was the guy from my vision?
In the next few months, I relaxed in my search and discovered kundalini yoga. I was swept up in the powerful kriyas, intense practice, beautiful chanting, and supportive Sangat. (community) After six months practicing kundalini yoga, the entire ashram went to a course given by Yogi Bhajan. I was most looking forward to meeting the teacher who gave us the science of kundalini yoga. I secretly hoped he might be the man from my vision. He was wearing a turban so he looked nothing like the long-haired man in my vision. I did not worry about this as I knew I was in the right place.
Many years later I happened to come across a photo of Yogi Bhajan, with his hair down, standing on one foot, in a clearing in nature with his hands in prayer pose. I was stunned. That photo was the same as my vision. Now I could put together the inner call I received and the action of becoming a student of Yogi Bhajan’s teachings.
To this day I amazed how this other teacher ‘knew’ my destiny was another path and refused to initiate me. This has a special meaning since Yogi Bhajan often spoke of how he never initiates anyone. He used to say if you are too stupid to initiate yourself, you don’t deserve to be a student of kundalini yoga.
That brings an interesting question. How do we initiate ourselves?